Stories from Texas Medicine, July 2019

Dell Med’s “Growth Year”: Innovative Curriculum Hits Milepost - 09/04/2019

Dell Medical School turned students’ third year into a “growth year” in which they could pursue either an independent health care project or a dual degree. Here’s how three Dell Med students spent this past year.


United Healthcare Cuts Consults - 09/04/2019

United Healthcare is eliminating payment for consults in two phases – one that took effect June 1 for certain services, and their complete elimination starting in October. The change is an effort to align with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services policy that eliminated payment for most consults in 2010, but it’s going to make it more difficult for many specialists to get compensated for the extra time and work those services require.


Keeping Kids Safe in and Around the Water: New AAP Guidelines - 08/02/2019

Drowning is the leading cause of death in children 1-4 years of age, and is the second leading cause of death in children under 14. In the March 2019 issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a revised policy statement on “Prevention of Drowning.”


Effectively Counseling Patients Amid the Anti-Vaccination Movement - 08/02/2019

Primary care physicians are at the frontline of the annual battle against influenza. Many patients arrive at their clinician’s office with erroneous information about the vaccine and have already decided to refuse their flu shot before they walk through the clinic doors. In response, practices and providers across the country have amplified their efforts.


Talk to Patients About: Diphtheria - 08/02/2019

Most people know little about diphtheria today thanks to the effectiveness of its vaccine. But fear of this highly contagious bacterial infection – which chokes off patients’ ability to breathe –  was once so strong that it accidentally gave birth to a major sporting event: the Iditarod Trail Dog Sled Race.


Don’t Try This at Work: Security Risk Analysis Is Not a Do-It-Yourself Project - 08/02/2019

Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) requires practices to conduct a security risk analysis at least once a year. HIPAA requires at least one analysis, and annual check-ups are considered a best practice. Many physicians find out through these reports that their practices have a lot of work to do to keep patient records safe.


The Meaning of Monthly: Court Ruling Offers Hope on Pain Clinic Registrations - 08/02/2019

Physicians can encounter a web of confusion and unfairness when it comes to navigating the Texas Medical Board (TMB). A Travis County district court has given Texas physicians clarity and hope when it comes to certain medical board investigations. The court’s decision, if it holds up, establishes an important precedent for when physicians are required to register their facility as a pain management clinic.


When Patients Consult Google Take Your Cues From Dr. Grugle - 08/02/2019

Having taken a careful history and performed an appropriate physical examination, you turn to the patient and ask, "Do you have any questions for me today?" The patient pauses, looks a little sheepish, and says, “Well, actually, I Googled my symptoms and it said this might all be gluten sensitivity. Do you think I might have gluten intolerance? Too much mercury in my fillings? My childhood vaccinations making me sick? Maybe just a highly chemically sensitive person?” How best to handle this interaction depends on the kind of patient who is before you, and choosing the correct response is crucial in maintaining the alliance.


Goodbye to Polio - 08/02/2019

Polio has all but vanished. For one Texas physician, memories of it never will.